Climate Activists Moon MA State Legislature, Demanding They "Stop Passing Gas"

BOSTON, MA — On Thursday June 15, eight climate activists from Extinction Rebellion Boston (XR) mooned legislature with the message "STOP PASSING GAS" written on their backsides, demanding that the Massachusetts government immediately ban all new fossil fuel infrastructure and stop ongoing construction of new projects. The demonstration disrupted a formal Senate session, which had been assembled to address a topic separate from climate change legislation, despite the ongoing crisis precipitated by lawmaker inaction. This action continues a long streak of non-violent civil disobedience protests that XR Boston has organized in their No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure campaign.

From the spectators gallery of the House Chambers, one activist delivered a brief verbal memorandum to explain the group's demand and announce their intention to moon lawmakers, ending with "You can look away if you like, but just like the climate crisis, we'll get more inconvenient until proper action is taken." Then as the legislators watched, the group of activists stood in the spectators gallery, bent over, and pulled down their pants to expose their rear ends in thongs. While "STOP PASSING GAS" glared in large black letters across their posteriors, activists chanted "You're a senator, not an ass, why are you still passing gas? Come on senators, you make the rules, time to ban new fossil fuels! Come on senators, don't delay, ban new fossil fuels today!"

All 8 climate activists were arrested after an hour of mooning, chanting, and some brief discussions with senators, including William Brownsberger. While Massachusetts lawmakers’ offend the sensibilities of anyone aware of the increasingly desperate tones in recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, activists chose to protect the sensibilities of the lawmakers by wearing bright pink thongs. These thongs covered sensitive bits, like how the secrecy policy of committee votes cover Massachusetts lawmakers from the consequences of accepting money from fossil fuel lobbyists.

One XR Boston activist, James Comiskey, explains the demonstration: "We're implementing the time-honored tradition of mooning today to tell the Massachusetts legislature that they're doing a terrible job. They're gravely underplaying the severity of the climate crisis and grossly overstating the actions they're taking to mitigate it. Massachusetts has climate goals that are not aligned with climate science and they're behind on reaching even those insufficient goals. They need to take the obvious steps to ban all new fossil fuels. To not do so is insanity and a crime against residents of Massachusetts and the world. We're making our cheeky statement today to tell the legislature to stop passing gas, and if you want to call yourself a climate leader you need to get your ass in gear and prove it."

Extinction Rebellion Boston has taken the lead on civil disobedience for climate justice in Massachusetts, and has committed to launching similar demonstrations until their demands are met. On May 10, Extinction Rebellion rebels staged a demonstration at the Massachusetts State House during a joint session, demanding that House Speaker Ronald Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka immediately file legislation to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure. This demonstration turned into a 6-hour peaceful occupation of the House Chambers. They also staged a daylong sit-in at the Governor's office on February 9, calling on Governor Healey and Climate Chief Hoffer to publicly commit to no new fossil fuel infrastructure. During this sit-in, Hoffer met with the activists and heard their demands, although she offered no substantive policy initiatives during the meeting, and hasn't responded to communication since. Last September, 15 XR rebels were arrested while disrupting traffic across the city in an effort to raise attention on their No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure demand. Their targets range from lawmakers to fossil fuel executives, and their demonstrations often include art, live music, and dancing.

When asked for his motivations behind participating in the State House mooning, an XR activist named Andrew explained, "Like a fart in a crowded elevator, the consequences of passing gas at this moment in history are too dire to be allowed in polite and respectful society. The excuses for authorizing new fossil fuel infrastructure are as naked as our butts, and infinitely more offensive to basic human dignity. I hope this action highlights the unblinking urgency of action on the climate crisis. With every part of my body and soul, I say: No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure!"

Banning new fossil fuel infrastructure includes:

  • NO new fossil fuel power plants
  • NO new gas hookups
  • NO new natural gas distribution pipelines, transmission pipelines, or compressor stations
  • NO new liquified natural gas production facilities, storage facilities, or terminals
  • NO new gas stations or other gasoline and diesel infrastructure
  • NO new airports or airfield expansions

Stopping new fossil fuel infrastructure under development, including:

  • MMWEC’s Peaker Plant in Peabody
  • NEC’s Liquified Natural Gas Facility in Charlton
  • LNG expansion to Douglas
  • L.G. Hanscom Airfield's North Airfield Development in Bedford
  • "Modernization" projects in Lowell and Worcester
  • "Reliability" projects in Western Mass. and Sharon-to-Brockton
  • The Hopkinton-Ashland Transfer Line
  • Meter stations in Longmeadow and Charlton

The Massachusetts State Government must make decisions based on the well-established scientific consensus of the climate emergency and stop fueling the climate fire with new fossil fuel infrastructure. New York State is already acting to ban certain fossil fuel infrastructure1, including recently-approved legislation to ban natural gas connections in new buildings. The law bans gas-powered stoves, furnaces, and propane heating, and effectively encourages the use of climate-friendly appliances such as heat pumps and induction stoves in most new residential buildings across the state. It requires all-electric heating and cooking in new buildings shorter than seven stories by 2026, and for taller buildings by 2029. In comparison, lawmakers in Massachusetts approved a paltry pilot program last year that would allow 10 cities and towns to ban fossil fuel-powered appliances in new construction and major renovations, if they meet certain requirements2.

The State House mooning occurred contemporaneously with a multitude of climate-driven disasters and political acts of folly. The Biden administration recently approved the ConocoPhillips's Willow Project in north Alaska.3 The UN International Seabed Authority just announced that it will begin taking applications from companies to mine the ocean floor this July.4 This year, record temperatures for the month of April were set in China, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam.5 The UK government is considering whether to approve a new oil and gas field in the North Sea.6 According to a 2022 World Wildlife Fund and Zoological Society of London report, there has been a 70% reduction in animal populations since 1970.7 Meanwhile, 2021 was Boston's hottest year on record8, and studies have shown that New England is warming faster than the rest of the planet.9

According to a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, without an immediate transition to renewable energy, humanity “will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all.”10 Yet Massachusetts continues to build new greenhouse-gas-spewing fossil fuel infrastructure, and residents will suffer the consequences.

  1. New York State banning fossil fuels in new construction
  2. Massachusetts limited fossil fuel program
  3. In Pristine Alaska, an Oil Giant Prepares to Drill for Decades
  4. UN to start taking deep-sea mining applications this July
  5. Large swathes of Asia are sweltering through record breaking temperatures
  6. Does the UK really need to drill for more North Sea oil and gas?
  7. Animal populations experience average decline of almost 70% since 1970, report reveals
  8. 2021 was Boston's warmest year on record
  9. New England winters are getting much warmer, data show
  10. The Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Working Group II report

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